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Texas Now Lets Adoption Agencies Refuse Families Based on Religion: Your Texas Roundup

Plus: Ken Paxton brings Texas into the fight against opioid producers, Greg Abbott gets veto happy, and a half-dozen Harris County pregnant women contract Zika.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“I know I’m dyslexic, but I know that sign is misspelled.”

—Kelly Maresh to the Victoria Advocate. Maresh noticed two misspellings on a Victoria County road sign directing motorists to the Dorothy H. O’Connor Pet Adoption Center. Or, as the sign would have you believe, the “Dorthy H. O’Conner Pet Adoption Center.” To make matters worse, this sign was apparently recently put up as a replacement for the old sign, which had for years misspelled adoption as “adooption.” If they end up once again replacing this sign, then hopefully the third time’s the chorm.


BIG NEWS


Spencer Platt/Getty

Religious Right
Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3859 into law on Thursday, which allows faith-based adoption and foster child placement agencies to refuse to give kids to families based on religion. Critics of the law say it would allow adoption and foster child placement agencies to discriminate against non-Christian families and could discriminate against LGBT families. “This law was never about the best interests of Texans or of children, but about forwarding a political agenda to codify the permission to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans into state law,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president of LGBT advocacy group GLAAD, said in a news release, according to the Texas Tribune. “Discrimination has won in Texas, and it saddens me that a child can now be denied the chance to live with a deserving family simply because they are LGBTQ.” As the bill made its way through the Lege earlier this year, lawmakers who supported it said the legislation would protect religious freedom while maintaining the roles of important faith-based organizations in the child welfare system, according to the Austin American-Statesman. About a quarter of the child placement agencies in Texas are religiously affiliated. As the Tribune notes, the bill’s proponents have long argued that it isn’t disciminatory because faith-based child placement groups are still required to make referrals to different organizations if they refused to provide services to a family on religious grounds.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Drug War
Attorney General Ken Paxton and the state of Texas jumped into the battle against opioid producers on Thursday, officially joining a bipartisan group of state AGs investigating whether drug manufacturers broke any laws, according to the Texas Tribune. “This is a public safety and public health issue,” Paxton said in a statement. “Opioid painkiller abuse and related overdoses are devastating families here in Texas and throughout the country. The multi-state investigation will help us determine the appropriate course of action we can take as attorneys general to address the opioid epidemic.” According to the Tribune, there were 1,186 opioid-related deaths in 2015 in Texas, and 33,000 total in the U.S. that same year. The opioid abuse epidemic is also suspected to be partially responsible for Texas’s horrible maternal mortality rate. It’s unclear which states are also taking part in this investigation, and it’s also unclear which drug companies are being are at the center of it.

Veto Fingers
Governor Abbott got a little veto-happy on Thursday, using his ability to say “no” to cancel fifty bills that were passed in the Lege. According to the Dallas Morning News, that’s the veto-iest a Texas Governor has been since Rick Perry killed 56 bills a decade earlier in 2007. Although Abbott’s fifty mark proves he’s certainly no slouch with the veto, he still came nowhere near the all-time record held by Perry, who cancelled 83 bills in 2001, his first legislative session as governor. Abbott released statements explaining his rationale for each of the bills, which range from legislation allowing counties to establish public defender offices for people with mental illness to a law requiring the state to study the future availability of water to one that would teach school children how to avoid sexual predators. His explanations for vetoing the bills typically fell into one of the following three categories: the law would be too costly, too liberal, or too overreaching.

Zika is Back
It’s summertime in Texas, which means mosquito-borne illnesses are rearing their ugly proboscis-armed heads again. On Thursday, a spokesperson for Legacy Community Health, a network of clinics in southeast Texas, announced that the Centers for Disease Control had confirmed positive tests for Zika among six pregnant woman in Harris County, according to the Houston Chronicle. These are the first Zika cases reported in Texas so far this year, and the unwelcome return of the virus comes as the Zika threat was believed to have dwindled. “The threat of Zika is lower this year than last in our hemisphere, but as our six latest cases show, pregnant women in Texas should remain vigilant,” Dr. Ann Barnes, Legacy’s chief medical officer, said in a statement, according to the Chronicle (the six women had originally been tested at Legacy clinics). “Patient education in Harris County must continue through this year’s mosquito season. Prevention must still be the key message coming from public health officials and health care providers.” All of the woman contracted the virus while traveling south of the U.S.-Mexico border.


WHAT WE’RE READING


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

A chunk of Antarctic ice larger than Texas is melting Washington Post

The congressional baseball and softball traditions transcend sports Texas Tribune

A Socorro man who saved a kid who fell in a well in 1959 turned 100 this year El Paso Times

Gambling is a no-go in Texas, but for some reason Bingo is fine Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Five students from the same Dallas high school are headed to Juilliard KUT

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  • José

    HB3859 is yet another example of why it’s a bad practice to rely on private religious groups to be in charge of services that serve the public interest. I bet that lawmakers would reconsider these faith based exemptions if, for example, the LDS church somehow cornered the market on adoption services and decided that they would only place kids in good Mormon families.

    • anonyfool

      This is why the GOP is pushing to privatize government services, so they can push contracts to friends and family and so they can discriminate as they choose, it’s a double win for them.

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  • Justin Mayes

    Regarding the drug war, I feel like it’s a misguided war that Paxton is waging. It’s a “low hanging fruit”. Opioid deaths do not even crack the top ten leading causes of death. However, three of the top ten are disease caused by poor choices in taking care of oneself. COPD from smoking, heart disease and diabetes are from poor eating and lack of exercise are on the list. Why not hold individuals accountable instead of pointing fingers at corporations? Fewer Marlboro’s and fried steaks, more exercise and fruits/vegetables.

  • anonyfool

    Hope they pull that guy out of the well before he turns 101!